As a vintage bookseller, Ms. Jeannie often comes into contact with various bits and pieces of paper tucked inside old books. Sometimes they are just blank scraps acting as an impromptu bookmark or place holder and other times they are incredible finds worthy of their own story like the White House letter Ms. Jeannie found tucked away in a vintage art book last year.
Today’s picture post is all about the pieces of paper ephemera that Ms. Jeannie has found in vintage books over the past few years. Each tells their own story about past readers, past events and past importance. They range from the commonplace (names, numbers and business cards) to the intimate (photographs, holiday cards, a letter to family that mentions Hitler and the war in Europe); from the topical (advertisements, recipes, lists) to the nostalgic (a letter detailing what to pack for camp) and from the unusual (a receipt from a cat breeder) to the campy (travel postcards). All these pieces of paper came from books published before 1970 but they cover a wide time span of the last century. The oldest is a scrap of paper dating to the late 1800’s and the most current is a handwritten recipe from 1980. Because they offer glimpses into past lives, Ms. Jeannie has blocked out any personal info that might still be traceable today so you’ll notice a few have some blocked out parts, but other than that they are unaltered. Let’s look..
Photographs are especially interesting. Was this woman below someone’s sweetheart? A sister, a friend, a reminder not to be forgotten?
In the swoop of a cursive letter or the fold of an envelope or the mark of a typewriter key each piece denotes a moment in someone’s life that ties us to humanity. From the 1950’s photographer who was late on his bills to the woman “enduring life as it comes” to the first time camper getting ready to spend a summer week away, these moments of tangible history are compelling in a timeless way. Just like vintage books! Endlessly fascinating, a book is not only a story between two boards but also a holder of life between two worlds.
This is just Part One of the paper collection. Look for Part Two coming soon later this season…
until then… happy reading!